The average rate payment per domestic hereditament in 1951–52 was approximately £16 8s. and in 1964–65 £32 8s. 5d. The average annual increase at compound interest over this period is about 5·4 per cent.
These figures from 1951 are interesting in themselves, but I do not think they are very important. The important figure, if one is serious, would be after revaluation, because they cannot be judged before then. I warn the hon. Member that if we were to take the figures from 1957 onwards the result of compound interest would show a considerable increase.
Has not the time already come for the Government to stop watching and to do something about London government? One or two undesirable features have already manifested themselves, and, although we know they will be dealt with after the election, may we have an assurance that they will be dealt with after the election?
Yes, but the Government came into power only in October 1964 and already the London Government Act had been implemented to the extent that the London boroughs had been constituted and elections had taken place. The Government felt, and rightly so, that it was quite impossible once again to change this enormous structure. It would be most unfortunate to London if any question were now to be bandied about that somehow the whole of London Government would be put into chaos.
I am always delighted to give pleasure to the hon. Member, even when the pleasure is caused by my implementing my own ideas. I will certainly consider receiving a deputation from him, although I should like notice of what particularly this one will be about.
Yes. I am aware that now that the rent rebate scheme has been explained its importance is seen. Two million families are benefiting, 75 per cent. of them pensioners. I am also aware that people feel that to pay 25 per cent. of the cost is a burden. That is why we had our second Bill, under which we are derating the domestic ratepayer to the extent of half the annual increase from the rates.
Proposals for four major alleviations of the rating system are on their way to the Statute Book. First, domestic ratepayers are to be derated to the extent on average of about half the usual annual increase in rates. Second, empty property is to be rated. Third, all domestic ratepayers will be able to pay their rates by instalments. Fourth, rate rebates are being provided for 2 million ratepayers of limited means at a cost to the Exchequer of £22 million.
No, it does not. I am curious to notice how the right hon. Gentleman now cannot even listen. This year, from April next, provided that the other place is convenient, there will be in force the Bill to operate the rate rebate scheme, which will give £22 million of Exchequer money distributed to 2 million families This is infinitely more than everything put together that was done during the previous 13 years.
Is the Minister aware that his colleague the Minister of Agriculture is seeking to force upon the Essex local authorities a higher proportion of the cost of flood prevention, which will have to be borne by the rates? This is in conflict with everything that the right hon. Gentleman has said. I do not expect him to give an answer now, but would he care to look into this matter?